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February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart month and a great time to focus on your heart health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Here are some risk factors, symptoms, and healthy living recommendations that the CDC has outlined.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for heart disease include a variety of medical conditions and lifestyle choices, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use


Unfortunately, there are often no symptoms of heart disease until an event such as a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia occurs and here are some symptoms that may occur with each type of event.

Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.

Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).

Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

Managing Heart Disease Risk

Here are four things that you can do to help manage your risk for heart disease.

  1. Don’t Smoke: Cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart disease.
  2. Manage Conditions: Continue to work with your Kelsey-Seybold Clinic team to manage any chronic conditions that you may have such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. This includes taking your prescribed medications as directed.
  3. Eat a heart healthy diet: Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits and eat foods low in trans fats, saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol, which may raise blood pressure. This means no more than two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women.
  4. Be active! Aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. If that seems like a lot, then break it down into smaller increments of 10-minute blocks, three times per day.

Although managing your risk for heart disease can be challenging, it’s well worth it for a healthier life!

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